Presentations are scary, but necessary things. If you were not born with a natural wealth of public speaking confidence, the chances are that you might be feeling a bit down by the fact that yes, your class presentation is worth 20% of your grade. Here are some tips to see you through these rough times.
It’s all well and good getting panicked about the actual day – the big P Day. But what about your presentation itself? Put some effort into doing the research and creating something you’re proud of. It may not be something you’re necessarily hugely interested in, but the more you know, the more confident you sound – it comes naturally hand in hand.
Know your key points
Have them listed. Paint them in bright colours on flash cards or on each individual fingertip. The serial killer of presentations is rambling. Have you ever squinted at someone who’s fidgeting and toying with the hem of their jumper sleeve as they witter on about…well, who really knows what? Know your points and keep them succinct. We’ll all thank you for it!
Look at everyone. This is the bit some people truly struggle with. So while your lecturer is struggling to determine what exactly is so fascinating about the light fixture, you should be encouraging yourself to look around the room; specifically at the people in it. Nothing makes people feel less included than your vague stare in the direction of that random crack in the ceiling. Nail people with your eyes. Tell them yes – I am directing this at you. Don’t linger. We don’t want to make them uncomfortable. But try and treat your presentation like a long conversation…only with you doing all the speaking!
Keep your Powerpoint clean
If there’s anything I’ve learned (and it’s a fault I’m always getting pulled up for): keep your Powerpoint clean. By this I mean, keep the text on your slides short, summative and preferably bullet-pointed. You’ll have more detail – just keep it off the slides. Have it on your notes. Know your points and hammer them out. For some reason, there’s nothing a lecturer hates more than a paragraph on a Powerpoint. I’d like to argue that a paragraph is preferable pretty much anywhere else, but sometimes there’s no arguing with that face. Oh, and stay off the effects. While a twirling entry and a spiralling exit may seem like the best idea at the time, on the day they fluster you and waste your time. And between you and me, I can never remember which piece of text I’ve designated to corkscrew in anyway.
DO NOT: end with “so yeah”
You always hear that endings are more important than beginnings – and wholly more important than the middle. This comes back to planning. Know where to end. Think it through. You don’t necessarily have to end with a slam-dunk, check me out, wittiest line in history. But tailing off with a mumbled “so yeah” plainly states that you’ve run out of information. If you can’t think of a cracking one liner, rattle off your last fact, close your mouth, click off the Powerpoint and smile serenely. You nailed this and you know it. Your lecturer will hand you your degree then and there, shake your hand and off you go, a shining knight in the midst of mumbling, fidgeting “so yeah-ing” horde. You’ve earned this my friend.